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SPRINGTIME IN MENDOZA - VIP


In the past month of September, we embarked on the first international journey of Wine Explorers.

We visited the city of Mendoza, Argentina, where we spent 5 days exploring 10 different wineries across its three most important wine regions: Valle de Uco, Maipú, and Luján de Cuyo.

Below, well provide detailed accounts of each of these 10 wineries we visited in the order we experienced them.




This was the winery that kicked off our journey, now one of the oldest and most prestigious in Argentina.


When it comes to highlighting something about this winery, it's hard to choose just one thing.

Its surroundings are magnificent, its wines are outstanding, and the cuisine is a perfect 11 out of 10 (we had the best Mendocinian empanada - one of the 4 courses on the menu - right there).

Moreover, the Cuban owner, Guillermo García Lamadrid, personally welcomed us, and the story that brought him to Mendoza left many of us teary-eyed. It's incredibly hard to top an experience where the owner himself greets you. They say that first impressions matter... this was the first winery we visited and it set the bar incredibly high.


A kind of second-place winery (as it was one of the 10 on our itinerary) was the prestigious and award-winning organic winery Domaine Bousquet, where we stayed for our first two nights in their lodge located amidst the vineyards and just a few meters from the winery: Gaia Lodge.

It's nestled at the base of the immense Andes mountain range, offering breathtaking views and surrounded by nature. The view from our rooms looked like a painting of the mountains. The hotel closed exclusively for us, allowing us to tour the organic winery and enjoy an incredible dinner in their signature restaurant, which truly exceeded all our expectations. Highly recommended, both for accommodation and visiting the winery.


This winery leaves a lasting impact just as you approach it. Construction began in 2013 and it was inaugurated in 2016. The building pays tribute to the mountains, which define both the climate and the soils of the region. It's a family endeavor; in 1963, engineer Alberto Zuccardi planted the first vineyards in Maipú. Today, two generations later, with Sebastián Zuccardi at the helm, it has continued to grow and develop, establishing itself as a significant reference in Argentine winemaking.


Every detail of its construction, the experience in the winery, and, of course, its wines, explain why it was chosen as the Best Winery and Vineyard in the World for the third consecutive year at The World's Best Vineyard competition in 2019, 2020, and 2021.


The highlight for us was the tasting we experienced in the famous dome of the winery (which is so characteristic when seen from the outside) and where you can appreciate incredible views.


Nestled among vineyards and mountains, it's located in the prime wine-producing area.

Founded on the quality of its land and the warmth of its people, Carla Suarez Lastra embarked on this venture in San Carlos, Valle de Uco, creating a unique place that combines nature, top-level cuisine, and excellence in their own wines. They have a family estate with nearly 100 years of history that has been preserved over time, passing down the love for their land from one generation to the next.


It's possible that this winery may not be on the must-visit list for someone traveling to Mendoza for the first time, simply because it lacks the marketing of many others. But we can tell you that going to Mendoza, especially in the Valle de Uco region, and not visiting this winery would be a grave mistake. You won't find grand buildings or stunning architecture here. What you will find is cuisine that you'll remember for the rest of your life, where each dish conveys the love for their origins in the most authentic way. Their wines are on par with their cuisine, representing the best of their region. Without a doubt, this is a must-visit that should be marked in red and underlined.

Located in Los Sauces, Tunuyán, Valle de Uco, this is a family-owned winery that the owners consider an extension of their own home. They approach their winemaking with great respect for the processes, trust in their people, and meticulous attention to every detail, making this winery not only a unique place but also a testament to their care, which is evident in their wines.


We enjoyed an exquisite dinner there. Since we visited in the evening, we didn't have the opportunity to fully explore the surroundings. We liked their wines very much, as well as the service. The most noteworthy aspect was the ambiance in the evening with bonfires, music, and beautiful views. We look forward to exploring it more thoroughly on a future trip.


Situated at the foot of the Andes, this winery is owned by the Péré Vergé family, who are passionate about the world's great wines. The family arrived in Argentina in the late 1990s with the aim of building a winery that would become one of their favorite places in the world. Marcelo Pelleriti, their general and enological director, is now one of the world's leading figures in winemaking. Guided by his wise mentor, Michel Rolland, he has taken flight, creating wines that stand out on the world stage. It was one of the two wineries owned by the French investors' group, Clos de los 7, that we visited. The most remarkable aspects were their wines and the breathtaking views. We didn't have lunch there, so we can't comment on their cuisine, but we expect it to be top-notch.

This winery is also part of the Clos de los 7 group of wineries owned by French investors. It boasts striking architecture and produces wines for the most discerning palates. The winery tour was highly interesting, but undoubtedly the most outstanding part was the exquisite multi-course lunch prepared by Chef Santiago Orozco Russo. Each dish was a work of art, and he generously explained each one to us. We paired the meal with a superb selection of the winery's wines. Their restaurant was recently named one of the "50 Best Winery Restaurants in the World" by "Best 50 of the World". It was undeniably one of the highlights of this journey.


The Benegas family has a long history in the Argentine wine industry. In the 19th century, Don Tiburcio Benegas founded the "El Trapiche" winery and contributed to the industry's growth in Mendoza. However, the family business dissolved in the 1970s due to economic crises.

Federico Benegas Lynch, from the fourth generation, decided to revive the family's legacy and acquired Finca Libertad in 1999.


In 2001, he purchased an old winery in Luján de Cuyo, which he restored and equipped with modern technology. In the year 2000, Benegas launched its first commercial vintage. Today, the winery reflects the passion and excellence of the Benegas family in wine production, surrounded by vineyards in a privileged location in Mendoza.


With over 150 years of history, their vineyards are organic (something that almost nobody knows because they maintain an extremely low profile and communicate very little about themselves). Touring their facilities is like traveling back in time and stepping into a period movie.


They produce only high-end wines designed to be aged for a long time. A true wine enthusiast should never miss a visit to this winery. The highlight: the tasting in the underground cellar with Franco, their sommelier, which we can say was one of the favorites of the group, as he conveyed so much passion through each wine. This is another example of a winery that likely isn't on the must-visit list for someone visiting Mendoza for the first time. It's also an example of what people would miss out on by not including it.


This is none other than the home of Alejandro Vigil, the winemaker of Catena Zapata, where El Enemigo wines are crafted. Located in Maipú, it is inspired by Dante Alighieri's magical world of the Divine Comedy.

It's difficult to highlight just one thing because every aspect of this place is an experience in itself, from the ambiance of every corner to the meticulous details. Nothing is left to chance.

Each dish in their restaurant is prepared with produce from the family garden. Their wines, with excellent international ratings, are the treasure of this winery, which seems to have art and history as the pillars of this grand sensory experience.

It's no coincidence that it's among the top 20 places to visit in the world, and its restaurant is the only one in Mendoza mentioned in the Michelin Guide.

This was the chosen place for our last dinner in Mendoza. We didn't visit the actual winery but dined at the restaurant, which was opened just last year and built in the basement of an old winery from 1920.


The name "Angélica" was chosen in honor of the mother of Nicolás Catena, the winer's founder. Its architecture (designed by architect Ricardo Zumel), the views, the furnishings, service, and cuisine are all of international caliber. The construction is inspired by the ancient villages that emerged around the 2nd century BC in what is now Italy, as a tribute from the Catena family to the "old world". Hand-cut stones, custom-made bricks, recycled wooden sleepers on the ceiling, a floor made from used wine barrels, an internal courtyard fountain, chandeliers, and furnishings create an atmosphere reminiscent of a medieval film, transporting us to the old world.


From the terrace overlooking the vineyards, you can see in the distance "the pyramid" where the winery was built as a tribute from the Catena family to the new world and the Mayan civilization.


We enjoyed an extensive 7-course menu, each one perfectly paired with the incredible wines from the winery. Their menu included several local dishes, some of which were also inspired by Angélica's preferences, such as their first course, "la picada" and the main course, "pic nic". We felt like true royalty at a banquet, living a chapter from "Game of Thrones".


The highlight? Simply everything: the place, the wines, the cuisine, and the service. We still have to visit the winery (the pyramid) on our next trip.


This is the only winery in Mendoza located in the middle of the city. Owned by the Millán family, this winery embodies the architecture of the Industrial Revolution and is linked to the cultural values of Mendoza society and the Golden Age of Argentine winemaking.


In 2008, it was declared a Cultural Heritage of the Province of Mendoza. In 2022, it celebrated its 100th anniversary, marking a milestone in Argentine wine history. It's the Mendoza winery that exports the most wine to Brazil.


Their line of wines, "Mosquita Muerta", began in 2010 under the guidance of José Millan (son).

Among their other lines, you can find "Perro callejero", "Sapo de otro pozo" and "Fuego Blanco".

"The surroundings are truly beautiful, as is their events hall and their restaurant, Abrasados", which was awarded the title of "Best Winery Restaurant in the World" by the Great Wine Capitals 2023 guide. Highly recommended: their wines and their cuisine, particularly their aged meats and the "nonna's" pasta.


With this winery, our itinerary came to the end, and we carried a piece of Mendoza with us.


We are already thinking about the Mendoza Modo VIP 2024 edition, knowing that there's so much more to explore in the land of our Argentine brothers.

Thanks a lot to the entire team at Wine Obs Argentina for sharing our passion for wine and wine tourism, making this journey so interesting and special. And, of course, most importantly, to the 13 friends who accompanied us, trusted in us, and made it all possible!


Cheers!


Photo: Tavis Davidson

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